Fiction: The Docks

Christopher X. Morris, Herald Contributor

The feel of a cold breeze off the river and the smell of wet concrete stiffening. These are the last two things I remember.

The Boss told us to take care of a scum sucker down by the docks. Pete was the only guy I trusted to bring along on a job like this. While we were getting ready, he hits me with the strangest question.

“You ever look at the reflection of the city in the water?”

“What would I do that for?”

“Well…I did a job like this one a couple months ago. Usually, I just toss the guy over, listen for the plunk in the water, and head home. But for some reason this last time…”

“What happened?”

“Ah hell. I don’t want to spook ya. I’ll tell ya after the job.”

I should have just packed up right then and there. But despite every instinct I had, we loaded the car, dragged this scum sucker out of his house, and peeled off into the dark, toward the docks.

We were the only car there. Between the isolation and the darkness, I was starting to feel better. This was the perfect night for a job like this. The scum sucker didn’t even put up that much of a fight…until he realized where he was. He saw the splintered wood. The river of black beneath it. He just started crying.

It’s times like these I realize why I bring Pete along. He throws the scum sucker over his shoulder and slams him on the ground. We tie his hands behind his back, put his feet into a plastic bin, and wait a couple minutes for his new cement shoes to dry.

All the time he’s blubbering and saying, “Not here man, please. Take care of me somewhere else. I won’t put up no fight. Just not here man.”

I empathize. Drowning is a real crap way to die.

Then that awkward time came. I bent down and whispered into his ear, “You better start praying to your God.”

He let out a horrific wail when I pushed him over. Pete and I stood there for a moment looking at the twinkling city lights. Then we heard the plunk.

“That’s that,” Pete said. He grabbed the rest of the cement and started walking back to the truck.

“Hey,” I yelled back to him. “What happened the last time you were here?”

“I looked into the river after the guy plunked.”

“What happened?”

A harsh breeze blew over us.

“Take a look for yourself.”

I took two or three fragile steps toward the edge. I could make out the reflection of the huge skyscrapers in the distance. It looked like they were pointing straight to Hell. My feet were right over the edge. My toes curled for balance.

I looked deeply into the dark waters. They were still rippling from the cement shoes. Suddenly, the scum sucker appeared. He bobbed just below the surface. Huge bubbles of air came rushing from his mouth. He was still struggling, still alive. Then the whole river seemed to open.

A purple glow from the underworld illuminated thick black tentacles that wrapped around the poor soul’s chest…then his legs…then his throat…Endless rows of jagged teeth appeared behind him. At the bottom of that deep dark mouth seemed to be all the suffering of this world and countless others. All the darkness of the cosmos. But none of that meant a damn after I saw its eye.

This great eye looked past my body, past my soul. Everything flashed at once and all the vastness of the universe lay before me. It folded and curled in my mind like a snail shell. It stuck into my membrane and squished its cancer into my mind.

I ripped myself away from the edge of the docks and fell to the ground. I looked up and Pete was gone…not exactly…I knew he was there, but I couldn’t understand it. The entire world was warped and disfigured. I couldn’t take it.

I reached for my gun, brought it to my head, and blew my brains out.